Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Why I FINALLY became a OneNote User—and I’m not turning back

I’ve been meaning to write a post about how Microsoft Office OneNote has improved my productivity, but really, who has the time? OK, sorry no more of that. Today, Microsoft announced that the Office OneNote iPhone app will be free for a limited time. (It was published to the Canadian app store last week). Now I can use the same TODO list on my PC, online and on my phone--all nicely synchronized.

- the new OneNote iPhone app

I only recently became a devoted OneNote user. I know, I know… What took me so long? Well, I don’t have a great excuse. When I tried the first OneNote Beta build, it wasn’t able to create tables—obviously, it had far fewer features than the current release—but the inability to create tables was a deal breaker for me. Since then, I’ve seen a flood of people adopt OneNote and sing its praises. I often questioned if I was missing out, but I kept holding back. I’m a big Outlook fan and I just kept using Outlook for everything. E-mail, appointments, reminders… Why not keep notes in there as well? That’s what I did, but lately my inbox was getting the best of me and despite my best efforts, I could use some help. (I wrote about managing my Outlook inbox in my post, Don’t be an E-mail Hoarder–Improve Your Outlook Productivity.)

So what was I waiting for? It turns out that the killer feature for me was the ability to use Windows Live SkyDrive to synchronize my OneNote notebooks across multiples machines and the OneNote Web App. And, of course, as of today, my phone as well.

For me, the ability to share OneNote notebooks effortlessly across devices is a game changer. I can make notes at work, update them online and then when I grab my laptop, I can rest assured that it will update automatically when I go online. The cloud-based synchronization also means that my notebooks are automatically backed up for me—a hard drive crash isn’t going to mean any note data loss at all. The fact that SkyDrive, the OneNote web app, and the iPhone app are all free is a nice bonus.

If you’re still not sold on OneNote, take a look at the OneNote blog post about using OneNote notebooks to plan a vacation.

- Use the Office Web Apps version of OneNote to work with your notebooks online.

I’m happy that I finally took the time to investigate what OneNote can do and I don’t see myself giving up this excellent productivity tool. If nothing else, it will as least give my Outlook inbox a bit of a break.

- The Office client version of OneNote


Jeremy Thake said...

Best thing I ever did was buy the ASUS eee Slate, now I have a pen tablet/multi-touch device and don't have to try and bend my iPad to work with hand written note taken...searching across handwriting is golden!
iPhone app doesn't allow drawing and no support for iPad. Great for if you use OneNote as text based approach though I agree there.

Mike Walsh said...

As far as I can remember the SkyDrive functionality is only available afaik on OneNote 2010. Given that I have PCs that are running OneNote 2007 (to match with the other Office apps on those PCs) and others that are running OneNote 2010, I can't use this.

[Old SharePoint lesson of never mixing Office versions on your SP clients]

Otherwise I have to agree that OneNote is a (off the scope, but) very very useful app to have installed.

Stephen Cawood said...

Mike, I'm sure you're right about 2010. That's a killer improvement to me.